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Cory Booker Give Love a chance

In the current crowded field of Democratic presidential candidates, Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey is the one making the loudest plea to his fellow Americans to reject the politics of hatred and division and embrace love, caring, civic involvement and civil discourse.

He knows he is sometimes mocked for speaking of love so openly on the battlefield of a presidential campaign, but he told audiences in New Hampshire at the end of February that his call is not a sign of weakness, but one of strength. And though voters in New Hampshire are just beginning to think about who to support, it is obvious many find Booker's message uplifting.

During a recent Saturday morning stop, it was easy to hear the echoes of Bobby Kennedy in Booker's exchange with about 300 people in the coastal town of Portsmouth on the border with Maine. He touched on specific public policy only when asked.

His broader appeal was to every American to take a greater hand in the direction of the country and a direct role when possible. Several times he said, the fear your actions will amount to nothing is no reason not to do something. When discussing racism he said it is not enough to be against racism, you must be anti-racist. You must put your beliefs into action.

"Patriotism is love of country but you cannot love your country unless you love your fellow countrymen and women," Booker said.

With humor, outrage, passion and stage presence Booker forced his audience to listen intently for over an hour. In some ways, they were shocked into listening, because most political speeches sound like a laundry list meant to pick off votes one promise at a time.

Booker's speech was more the telling of a story meant to persuade people to join a cause. He explained how the activism of Congressman John Lewis in the 1960's directly affected his family in New Jersey by inspiring a local lawyer to take on racism in the housing market.

He implored everyone to be the pebble dropped in the water that sends out ripples of change they may never see for themselves.

The empathy Booker showed during a question and answer session felt incredibly real. Hugging was a big thing. Listening without interrupting was maintained from start to finish. Booker engaged with a heckler in a non-confrontational manner that gave the heckler no choice but to stand down. When he knew his answer to a question was not going to win the vote of whomever was asking the question - he said what he thought anyway - in a bid for mutual respect.

Like his fellow senators, Kirsten Gillibrand and Kamala Harris, who are also running for the Democratic nomination, Booker sees President Trump and his basic behavior as a human being as a major American issue that must be addressed and corrected in the next election.

There is little doubt when Booker decries demagogues and those who seek to divide the nation for their own political gain, he is talking about the president. But Booker places a greater emphasis on asking all Americans to recognize the fundamental need to rise up as one to reject bigotry and hatred.

Even if this message of love, hope and civic engagement is not enough to win, it is an important message for someone to be delivering. Children after all are among those watching, listening and learning. The results of the next election will send them a signal about what wins, what works, what is the best way to make a difference - what is the best way to live your life? Divide and conquer, or embrace those you differ with to emerge stronger?

Booker's candidacy asks these questions.

dean@deanpagani.com I ThisDecisiveMoment.com I DeanPagani.com

© Dean Pagani 2019

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© Dean Pagani 2019

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